Murtagh Man, an historic clothes store in Carrick-on-Shannon will close its doors for the final time after 65 years of trading on Saturday, March 29.
During the big closing down sale, Gerry Murtagh has been reliving memories and moments spanning decades with loyal customers.
In the late forties a men’s clothes shop was opened by Liam Murtagh. It was coincidently burnt out on March 18, 1953. The store was re-built and then developed into a department store in the 1970s. After further redevelopment in 2005, the store reverted once more into a mens clothes shop.
Speaking with the Leitrim Observer this week Gerry Murtagh, pictured below, said it is with much regret and sadness that after 55 years of standing behind the counter he has decided to hand up his tape and retire from his Men’s fashion and footwear buisness. “The frightening thing,” he mused, “is not only how times have changed but how quickly those 55 years have passed.”
For Gerry it seems like only yesterday when he went to Athlone to serve his time for the exciting sum of 2 shillings and six pence. Full board at that time was £2.50 per week and shopping hours were from 9.30am until 7pm and 10pm on Saturday with a half day Wednesday. Eventually a six days week arrived with hours of 9-6 and until 8pm on Saturday. Christmas Eve the shop was always open until 11pm.
He recalls “Everything from suits and socks were wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. Sellotape was a huge step forward. Shops with bags were very posh. The best suit cost £20 and a good wage was £7.50 per week.”
In 1968 Monica and Gerry married and moved from Shannon Lodge to Main Street. In the early seventies they purchased Gilmartins Wholesale store and developed an extensive department store to include exclusive ladies and children’s fashions and footwear.
Monica had by then joined as a buyer and manager of the ladies and children section, which she ran extremely successfully until after 37 years she decided to retire in 2005.
At its peak Murtagh House of Fashion employed 12 people with at least 30 young men and ladies moving through over those 55 years. “The loyalty and dedication of the many people who worked for us was exceptional. They gave their best to the buisness and to us,” Gerry stated.
During that lifetime Gerry and Monica were fortunate to be blessed with six fabulous children: Karen, Kenny, Robert, Stephen, Nigel and Brian, who have all moved on successfully with their lives.
“For me the most difficult part of retiring shall be the loss of meeting the many wonderful and loyal customers who have supported the Murtagh name over those many years. Above all I will miss the simple chat, banter and craic that formed part of any negotiations and sale. Our customers were truly the salt of the earth.
“On behalf of Monica and myself, I would like to thank all those generous people who have supported our many enterprises over the year.
“Indeed in this respect, if I ever offended anyone it was never intended and for that I apologise.”
He also wishes to take this opportunity to thank all those fine people who have worked for the company over the last 55 years in particular Joe McManus and Mary McGushin, both of whom have been with the business in excess of 40 years.
Murtagh Man remains open until Saturday, March 29, they have plenty of quality fashions and footwear and a lot of new Spring stock at unbelievably good deals.
Over the next ten days, Gerry looks forward to meeting all their loyal customers for one last time, not necessarily to buy but to give him an opportunity to thank them personally for their loyalty over the years and to wish them health, happiness and God’s blessing for the future.